Showiness is out, sensibility is in
If there’s one word that sums up how food’s going to be like this year, it’s sensible. Simplicity and transparency will vote out unneeded fanfare. You will rarely see smoking guns antics and outlandish fusion scripted to stun. Food will look, feel and taste like food, the way God intended it to be. Real, relatable, responsible. The innate flavours, textures, aromas and colours of ingredients will be celebrated. And there will be an emotional connect – a bonding with food. Food will play a much deeper role than just satiating hunger and pleasing taste buds. Food choices will be a form of self-expression, just like clothes. Here’s what will bring about these refreshing changes in the culinary world.
Michelin star chef Alfred Prasad of The Oberoi, New Delhi says ‘glocal’ will be even bigger this year. “Dishes inspired by interesting global influences combined with local sensibilities will appeal to diners. For instance, we have a dessert, Dal Chawal Papad Achar. It’s dal payasam, rice kheer ice-cream, ragi papad, and mango murabba. The name is inspired by a traditional go-to ensemble in several Indian households,” he says.
Authenticity will be cherished. Diners will seek authentic flavours that can emotionally connect with them. Food ingredients will resonate flavours and aromas in their truest form. Whether it’s the supermarkets or restaurants or street food, consumers will want to know where’s the food from, what it contains, says the chef.
Plant-based food will also create a special place in the hearts of gourmands. Health and environmental concerns will be a big motivator. “Restaurants will offer vegetarian and vegan dishes that will be as exciting as the meat or seafood options. Jackfruit with its meaty texture will be a popular alternative,” says Prasad, adding, “People will prefer natural, whole foods and minimally processed ingredients. The demand for dishes that include tofu, tempeh, edamame, lentils, chickpeas peanuts, almonds, spirulina quinoa, flex, and hemp will be remarkably high. Locally and ethically sourced or grown ingredients with the right environmental footprint, will be a big tick box.”
One will also see more of natural sweeteners, milk and flour alternatives. “Raw honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, sates or date sugar will be more frequently used as natural sugar. Hotels will offer alternative milk products which are as nutritious as regular milk. Coconut, soya, rice, almond and flax milk will be most popular,” says Madhumita Mohanta, executive chef, The Lalit. Flour alternatives will be readily available. Apart from amaranth, banana, buckwheat, chickpea, coconut, millet and oat, nut flours such as almond, peanut, hazelnut and cashew flour gain popularity.
Family-style dining (a menu that is not too expensive and not too cheap, table service as opposed to counter service, and a full bar separate from the dining room) will also create relaxing, home-like experiences, Mohanta says.
And thank God for small mercies, plates will be dutifully back in their place! Remember the phase when restaurants obsessively replacing plates with quirky objects? We had our dishes served in weird objects such as miniature carts, cycles and ladders. The purists also cringed at the unexplainably passionate use of syringes in food presentations! We will celebrate normalcy as simple, fuss-free, comfort cutlery will return to our tables. “Plating will be simple, minimal, clean. Food will speak louder than presentation,” adds Mohanta.